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Mental Health

More than half of trans teens have considered suicide in the past year

Researchers said much more support is needed to help trans children.



By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

More than half of transgender teens have thought about suicide in the past year, according to a new study.

Transsexual transgender woman wearing striped t-shirt over isolated white background Doing time out gesture with hands, frustrated and serious face
Researchers examined data on 6,800 teenagers aged 15 to 17. (Shift Drive/Shutterstock)

Researchers found that trans teens are five times more likely to think about suicide and are over seven times more likely to have attempted suicide than their non-trans peers.

They said the link was in part explained by the bullying and cyberbullying trans youngsters experience as they grow up.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer teens are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, attempt to kill themselves and suffer from poor mental health.

Researchers in Canada say their findings suggest much more support is needed to help trans children.

For the study, the team looked at data from the 2019 Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth.

Earlier research looking at transgender and non-binary teens’ mental health has been few and far between.

The researchers looked at data on 6,800 teenagers aged 15 to 17, 99.4 percent of whom were cisgender, which means they identify as the gender they were assigned at birth and 0.6 percent of whom were transgender.

Most respondents (78.6 percent) were straight, 14.7 percent were attracted to multiple genders, 1.6 percent were lesbians, 0.8 percent were gay men and 4.3 percent were unsure about their attraction.

Overall, 14 percent of all teens were found to have expressed some form of suicidal thoughts within the past year.

Study author and executive director of Wisdom2Action Fae Johnstone, who is a trans woman said: "A really concerning finding is that more than half of all transgender youth reported seriously considering suicide in the previous 12 months.

“This is a crisis, and it shows just how much more needs to be done to support transgender young people."

“Suicide prevention programs specifically targeted to transgender, non-binary and sexual minority adolescents, as well as gender-affirming care for transgender adolescents, may help reduce the burden of suicidality among this group.

“Given that these associations were partially mediated through the experience of bullying, systemic change in the form of primary prevention programs aimed at public awareness and promoting inclusivity may lead to a reduction of the experience of minority stress among sexual minority and transgender youth, reducing their risk of poor mental health and suicidality.”

Study author Dr. Ian Colman from the University of Ottawa and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said: “The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a very stressful time for all young people, but particularly for gender and sexual minority teens.

“These findings, showing dramatic increases in suicide risk, should sound a clarion call that additional support is needed.”

The study also found the proportion of teens who said they were attracted to more than one gender was higher than in previous studies.

This group was more than twice as likely to have thought about suicide.

Lead study author Dr. Mila Kingsbury from the University of Ottawa said: “Given that the exploration of romantic and sexual relationships is a major developmental task of adolescence, it is perhaps unsurprising that many begin to question sexual attraction and orientation during this time."

The findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

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